A non-governmental organisation, Social Integrity Network (SINET) has alleged that Nigeria has lost one million tons of steel manufacturing products and about 30,000 jobs between 2017 till date to smuggling and importation of substandard steel products.
The NGO said as the federal government plan to revive the Ajaokuta Steel company, President Muhammadu Buhari should urgently device effective policy to curb smuggling in the steel sector.
According to the group, if the massive economic losses occasioned by smuggling were not halted, there might be no future for the nation’s iron and steel sector.
The National Coordinator of the group, Mallam Ibrahim Isah, in a statement recently, also advised the President to look into, “high conspiracy and connivance among Customs Officer and perpetrators of illegal acts.”
He said the President must issue an Executive Order compelling the Comptroller-General to fish out corrupt officers who have been assisting importers to clear such goods, thereby hindering the age-long fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other social vices.
He said, “We cannot fold our arms and allow smuggling to take over our economy thereby subjecting us to high economic risk and massive downsizing of industrial workers.
“Many local industries have collapsed due to high rate of importation of substandard products such as coloured corrugated roofing sheets, aluminium roofing sheets as well as galvanised corrugated roofing sheets.
“It is saddened to note that while the nation is gradually winning the war against smuggling through the closure of inland borders, no attention is given to seaports where containers are checked into the country without adequate inspection thereby paving ways for substandard goods as well as dangerous weapons into the nation. There can’t be significant success without paying cognizance attention to Seaports and Creeks.”
He, however, appealed to the federal government to enact a policy that would further protect the interest of the local manufacturers as well as reduce revenue evasion, which he said had made the Nigeria Customs to be losing a minimum of N1 billion to smugglers weekly.
“If Buhari must triumph in his fight against corruption and insurgency, he must take bold steps towards sanitising the Customs service and prevent the persisting massive smuggling activities in a bid to further demonstrate strong political-will of promoting local content and safeguarding the future of over 200million Nigerians,” he said.